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9/28/2023 MEDIA ADVISORY: Special House Commission will study, recommend changes to merit system for certain state agencies
STATE HOUSE — The inaugural meeting of a special House commission to study the merit system in certain state agencies will take place today, Sept. 28, at 3 p.m. in Room 135 on the first floor of the State House.

Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) has appointed Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry), whose resolution creating the commission was adopted by the House of Representatives, to serve on the commission along with Rep. Deborah A. Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston) and Rep. Sherry Roberts (R. Dist. 29, Coventry, West Greenwich).

Rounding out the commission will be Brenna McCabe, deputy director of the Department of Administration; Kimberly Merolla-Brito, director of the Rhode Island Department of Human Services; Michael Cronan, director of legislative and constituent affairs for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services; Colleen Waters, interdepartmental project manager for the Department of Children, Youth and Families; Matthew Gunnip, president of Local 580, SEIU AFL-CIO; J. Michael Downey, president of Rhode Island Council 94; Jennifer Griffith, Esq., and Mary Archibald, PhD.

The commission will be tasked with making a comprehensive study and providing recommendations for changes to the merit system of personnel administration and personnel management for the Department of Human Services and the Department of Children, Youth and Families. According to the resolution creating the commission, Rhode Island “has too many unfilled fulltime equivalent positions in essential positions serving the State’s most vulnerable residents in the Department of Human Services and the Department of Children, Youth and Families; and the lack of staffing has led to extended wait times for service in walk-in offices and at the call centers. Residents are having to wait far too long to resolve any issues with these departments, and he unfilled positions also impact the morale of the current staff, increasing work load and stress, which then increases turnover in these departments, creating more vacancies.”

The panel will report back to the House of Representatives by April 1, 2024.

The meeting will be televised live by Capitol Television, which can be seen by Cox Communications subscribers on channels 15 and 61 for high definition, on channel 15 by i3Broadband viewers, and channel 34 for Verizon subscribers. Livestreaming will be available at

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903